Change up your communication style and benefit your veterinary practice

A weekly newsletter took the place of team meetings and got people talking at this veterinary practice.
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Jul 15, 2014

I work in a small animal practice with two full-time veterinarians on staff and 10 other team members. In the past few years, we’ve had a lot of turnover, with long-time employees changing careers or moving away. I realized during that time, and with the hiring of new team members, that we had gotten complacent and our communication skills were lacking. No one knew what had or hadn’t been done in the practice.

Instead of mandatory meetings—“Staff meeting? Sigh…”—I created a newsletter called “The Weekly Wag.” It’s divided into three sections: “The Good,” “The Bad” and “The (Not So) Ugly just FYI.” Here’s what I include:

The Good: I showcase accomplishments of individual team members that week to let them know I’ve noticed the good they’re doing. Birthdays and hiring anniversaries are also included.

The Bad: I go over issues and situations in the practice that need work. For example, I explain that we could be doing a better job cleaning between patients, for example, and any other day-to-day procedures that need to be addressed.

The (not so) Ugly, just FYI: I detail new policies. For example, I had to explain, in detail, how and when each food company order is placed when our ordering and delivery dates recently changed. I also provide tips and information, like things I learned at the most recent CVC [Editor’s note: Willis attended CVC Washington, D.C. in May 2014].

A copy of the newsletter is posted on the board for everyone to initial that they’ve read it, and I give a copy to each team member. I make sure doctors initial as well. When I see that everyone has signed off, we gather and discuss each topic. This has worked well in our office and has shown the team that I need open communication to make sure that everyone is on the same page from week to week.

Click here to download a copy of The Weekly Wag.

Marcie Willis is the team coordinator for the Cooke Veterinary Medical Center in Chesapeake, Va.